Michelle Obama criticized for obesity comments: Was she really out of line?

Michelle Obama has taken on childhood obesity as her cause from the White House.

With more than one-third of America’s kids falling into the category of obesity and as a mother of young children, it seems like the perfect issue for our First Lady.

However, she’s already being criticized for her efforts.  Here are the issues:

  1. Michelle Obama referred to own her daughters when talking about obesity.

From Shine: “Two weeks after announcing the unnerving news that childhood obesity has tripled over the last 30 years, and unveiling her own initiative to combat it, Michelle Obama has offended critics by discussing her own “wake-up” moment—when the family pediatrician told her that daughters Sasha and Malia were becoming overweight.”

“ ‘In my eyes I thought my children were perfect,” Mrs. Obama said at the January launch of her initiative. “I didn’t see the changes.’ ”

As someone who writes about her children often, I can understand the natural inclination to discuss your own children when talking about an issue. She was making the cause personal because it really had affected her family. They are not perfect and she’s saying to America even we are dealing with this problem. While using a personal experience is effective case making, was it hurtful to her girls to say that to the national media or are these critics seeing a problem where there is not one?

I read a story a few years back about mom bloggers and the privacy of their children. The point of the story was to be careful not writing something that would embarrass your child. When I started writing my kids were babies so there was very little that could embarrass them nor would they have known. But as they have grown, I had started viewing each mention of them through that lens. Would it embarrass them to know this fact about them is on the Web

2. The second criticism was about word choice Michelle used in speaking to her own children about maintaining a healthy weight. From Psychology Today:

“While her heart is in the right place, Michelle may not have considered or been familiar with the delicate balance between preventing obesity and triggering eating disorders. She mentioned that she put her children on a diet after her pediatrician and their father felt they were getting “chubby.” Words like “chubby” don’t cause eating disorders but they are often a trigger to disordered eating behavior. As an eating disorder professional, we would strongly caution parents from using labels or prerogative words to describe their child’s weight as this has lasting impacts on a child’s self esteem. Also, putting kids on “diet” instead of focusing on healthy eating and exercise can be another trigger for eating disorder behaviors. Dieting is clearly not the answer. And, weight alone is not an indicator of a child’s health. Children’s weights dramatically vary and change particularly as they go through development stages, growth spurts and puberty. Instead of aiming for slimness, let’s focus on a healthy lifestyle that includes mindful eating, access to healthy food and exercise.”

I think that in general many women are very worried about passing on eating issues that they have to their children so I think folks are particularly tuned into words like chubby.  But would that be a problem for all children? Would it depend on how it was said and how often or is just verboten?

So what do you think:

Is Michelle Obama being unfairly criticized for using her children as national examples in a family having to change some habit at home to prevent becoming overweight?

Does her word choices of chubby or diet bother you? Do you think they actually bothered her kids?

Are you personally worried about passing on eating issues to your children, particularly daughters? Are you extra careful in how your refer to and monitor your children’s eating?

195 comments Add your comment

goawayobozo

February 5th, 2010
2:42 pm

@FCM & Becky
I think you should vote for barry -only this time let’s give him the agenda to make this a socialist society. I am sure you would like to be limited in what Christmas presents you are allowed to buy (that is as long as Christmas is legal in your world), you would obviously enjoy being told that you can not purchase perfume because it offends barry’s sense of smell (he really has no common), and maybe it would be good for you if it were a law that anyone seen looking at anything of interest should be shot.
@Bamagurl
wow, you are racist! If your obozo barry is soooo good, then why is the econmy getting worse, why does he NEVER take blame for his mistakes and WHY OH WHY does he think that he can break constitutional law just to enforcehis agenda? That’s what I thought – he thinks he is marx.

RJ

February 5th, 2010
2:46 pm

JJ, still waiting for those pics…

motherjanegoose

February 5th, 2010
2:47 pm

O.K….I may be totally missing something here but 22 pounds of meat in 34 days equals about 2/3 a pound per day divided by 2 people at JJ’s house ( she said she had a roommate) which is 1/3 pound per person: 5 ish ounces.

The recommendation is 2-3 servings of protein per day is it not? How many ounces per serving?

As an early childhood teacher, these math equations are not my forte!!! Perhaps someone can clarify.

Is 1/3 pound per person each day a TERRIBLE thing? I do not generally eat meat for breakfast or lunch, as I usually have fruit, bagel, yogurt or soup. …so this is typically my only serving. I am thinking boneless chicken breasts come 3 in a pack for a pound, so they are each 5 ounces or so.

I grew up on the farm and we always had a meat dish for dinner. I also fix salad, fruit, rolls, pasta, rice, veggies etc.

Becky

February 5th, 2010
2:55 pm

@goawayobozo..What is your problem?

johnqpublic

February 5th, 2010
2:58 pm

In her senior thesis at Princeton, Michele Obama , the wife of Barack Obama stated that America was a nation founded on ‘crime and hatred’. Moreover, she stated that whites in America were ‘ineradicably racist’. The 1985 thesis, titled ‘Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community’ was written under her maiden name, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson.

Michelle Obama stated in her thesis that to ‘Whites at Princeton , it often seems as if, to them, she will always be Black first…’ However, it was reported by a fellow black classmate, ‘If those ‘Whites at Princeton ‘ really saw Michelle as one who always would ‘be Black first,’ it seems that she gave them that impression’.

Most alarming is Michele Obama’s use of the terms ’separationist’ and ‘integrationist’ when describing the views of black people. Mrs. Obama clearly identifies herself with a ’separationist’ view of race.

‘By actually working with the Black lower class or within their communities as a result of their ideologies, a separationist may better understand the desperation of their situation and feel more hopeless about a resolution as opposed to an integrationist who is ignorant to their plight.’

Obama writes that the path she chose by attending Princeton would likely lead to her ‘further integration and/or assimilation into a white cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant.’

Michele Obama clearly has a chip on her shoulder. Not only does she see separate black and white societies in America, but she elevates black over white in her world.

So, johnqpublic...

February 5th, 2010
3:16 pm

Do you elevate whites over blacks in “your world”?

JJ

February 5th, 2010
3:23 pm

RJ – hold your breath, and wait right there.

catlady

February 5th, 2010
3:41 pm

Thanks to all you who gave advice on the OB! It is a warm community here (sometimes a heated community :) God bless.

Rebecca

February 5th, 2010
3:45 pm

Do President Obama & First Lady have people that work for them that audit their speeches? Their choice of words often gets them in trouble. I agree with the point the First Lady was trying to get across however.

Did anyone see Oprah yesterday with Dr Oz? The subject was Diabetes and its rampant decent on this generation. Our children consume almost 2x as much sugar as we did. AA & Latino children are at much greater risk. Just a shocking show to watch. I don’t recall anyone on the show using works like fat or chubby.

Messages often get distorted if the wording and delivery is wrong.

motherjanegoose

February 5th, 2010
3:49 pm

LOL…catlady, especially when someone ( like me) has the nerve to go off base and interject something that is not related to the topic…like I am known to do.

Maybe this has to do with teaching and juggling so many hats at once; however, I know DB is not a teacher ( her mother is) and she does a fine job bouncing around with me during out lunches out….you never know what we might get into!

HUGS to you DB.

Will someone please answer my question about the appropriate portions of meat? I ran this by my daughter and she agreed that 2/3 pound of meat shared by 2 people for a meal is not outrageous.
Maybe we are both missing something?

justmy2cents

February 5th, 2010
3:50 pm

FCM…she just turned 11 last week and we took her out of all outside activities to concentrate on schoolwork. I’m pretty sure sitting at the kitchen table doing homework doesn’t burn excessive calories. :o)

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 5th, 2010
4:05 pm

@MJG…I’m no nutritionist, but this is a little blurb from a Harvard publication that says more than 18 ounces of red meat (beef, pork, lamb) may contribute to a higer rate of colon cancer….granted there could be a lot of other factors that those inclined to eat more than 18 ounces of red meat do that those as compared to those who don’t eat that much. 1/3 of a pound of meat a day = 37.3 ounces per week. (16oz x 1/3 of a lb x 7 days a week)

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 5th, 2010
4:16 pm

Here is another article that makes the assertion that those who eat the most red meat have a greatly increased risk of dying from cancer as compared to those who eat the least.

Interestingly, I didn’t see where it quantified whether or not consuming 2 1/3 pounds of read meat per week would qualify as being in the high meat consumption group.

I don’t vouch or make any assertions as to the validity and/or scientific soundness of these studies….but almost 2 1/2 pounds of meat a week for me would be a bit much. And I assume that’s just for dinner, and doesn’t include things like breakfast sausage or ham, processed turkey sammies for lunch, etc. If one is eating 2 1/3 lbs just for dinner weekly, it’s probably not a stretch to think the total for the week is well over 3 lbs per week.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/story?id=7153072&page=3

Tiffany

February 5th, 2010
4:19 pm

@Auburn Tigers…trying to make people think that President Obama doesn’t know how many states there are is simply ludicrous. I applaud Michelle Obama in every way. She’s an AWESOME role model…she’s a great mom, and she truly cares about all of our kids too.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 5th, 2010
4:45 pm

@MJG…I was just curious…I know you’ve written about your kids here in the past, but I don’t recall what you’ve written about them. Does your daughter have some educational/professional credentials that allow her to be an “expert witness” on how much meat consumption was reasonable or not, or was it just kind of a “man on the street” opinion?

HB

February 5th, 2010
4:49 pm

Food pyramid recommendation is 5-6 oz (depending on age and gender) daily from the meat and beans food group and they stress the importance of including fish, nuts, and seeds and not fulfilling this part of your diet by eating only land animals. Meat, however, can be left out completely if one chooses to eat adquate amounts of beans, nuts, soy, etc, as well as eggs if they are lacto-ovo vegetarians. So 1/3 lb of meat every day does appear to be too much and someone eating that amount should look into replacing some of that with nut butters, beans, etc (if they are already eating those, then can just cut back on the meat).

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 5th, 2010
4:52 pm

http://www.everydayhealth.com/blog/zimney-health-and-medical-news-you-can-use/its-time-to-cut-back-your-red-meat-consumption/

@ MJG…here is an article that makes a connection between the study that made all the news and just how much read meat consumption was considered “high”. It states that 4 oz per day (1/4 pound) raises your overall risk of dying prematurely, raises your risk of dying from cancer and raises your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

So if one believes the study is correct and that this author drew the appropriate conclusions from it, then the answer to your question is yes, 1/3 of a pound of red meat per day is excessive and will have detrimental effects to your health.

RJ

February 5th, 2010
4:58 pm

@JJ, if I consumed that much meat every day I wouldn’t want to show my picture either. Whatever your issue is with Mexicans, keep your comments or “oberservations” to yourself. You come across as ignorant and racist. Now, is that plain enough for you?

I am sooooo very proud to have Michelle Obama as my First Lady. She’s doing an awesome job!

catlady

February 5th, 2010
5:33 pm

I eat less than a pound of straight meat a week–mostly chicken and fish and turkey.

Read the study in National Geographic about places with the least cancer and the longest rate of living. The primo place in the US is Loma Linda, California, which has a very high number of Seventh Day Adventists, who generally shun meat.

However, I think each person should choose what works best for them, eating and deliberately, based on what is important to them.

catlady

February 5th, 2010
5:34 pm

Should have said “eating consciousl¥ and deliberately”.

motherjanegoose

February 5th, 2010
5:34 pm

@ tiger LOL, no my daughter is a Senior in HS and plans to go into foods and nutrition next year
( in college), so my guess is that she should know all about this by the time she GETS her degree. She watches all the FOOD NETWORK shows and takes the magazines too but she certainly is NO expert and thus her opinion, like mine on this subject, may not be valid.

I actually was not thinking about only red meat, so maybe that was why I was confused. Is pork considered red meat…I was thinking the ad: PORK…THE OTHER WHITE MEAT. We eat chicken and fish here too!

I serve meat at every dinner meal. If that is a problem, it is mine and those who enjoy dinner with me, JJ. I am with you here and give me a shout if you have an extra plate for dinner…I am less than 15 minutes away…LOL.

Both of my Grandmothers lived to be 90 plus and they also served meat for dinner. I never saw my husband’s Great Grandfather without a cigarette and a cup of coffee and he lived to be 92. My father in law drinks, smokes and has 8-10 cups of coffee each day. He is in his mid 70’s.

SOOO…I am not going to worry about the pork loin/chops, fajitas, chicken, steak ,salmon,and roast I serve to my family. THIS IS JUST ME.

@ Tiffany…do you know Michelle personally…to say she is a great Mom? I have oodles of people who know me personally and say good things about me while others ( on this blog) rip me to shreds . I do not know her personally and she may be WONDERFUL….. I am just sayin….

Not getting into a political snafu but CLARK HOWARD ( WSB here radio) today said that the bond rating of America has been downgraded by Moody’s and if we do not get on a tighter fiscal program with less debt our country will be in big trouble in TEN years. Those of you who are thrilled with Obama might want know this. Clark Howard does not usually venture into politics…he is a money man. He said we are headed into trouble with the debt factor as other countries are losing faith in the USA as far as paying back their debt. I am NOT an economist but heard this today. Anyone else?

catlady

February 5th, 2010
5:35 pm

Correction: Should have said “eating consciously and deliberately”.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 5th, 2010
5:46 pm

@MJG…the study sites pork as a non lean meat…but it’s from a pig, so that’s not real surprising, i guess..they’re the international symbol of fat.

So as this relates to what JJ outlined, if you excluded the 4 lbs of chicken, that would presumably be 18 lbs of read meat consumed over 34 days, which puts the average daily consumption at 4.24 oz. The studies apparently show that, statistically speaking, that is bad for a person over the long run.

LOL…that’s what I love about you MJG, you ask what’s the guideline, you get an answer, then say Bahhhh…I know people in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s who smoke, so I’m not going to worry about it! That’s classic and cracks me up. I love having you here, you’re a vital part of keeping my debate skills sharp! I’m serious..don’t ever change.

motherjanegoose

February 5th, 2010
5:59 pm

@ tiger, glad someone here likes me….it really makes my day. Two people in one day now, DB and now you! Glad you could join us, I have been “here” on and off for almost 4 years. Some wish I would leave….

Yesterday a 4 year old told me: YOU ARE FUNNY AND COOL. I laughed and told him my own kids do not think so….:)

In our extended family, we talk about this all the time. There are those RELATED TO US who have no regard for eating or living healthy and they are around for a LONG time. Then, we have friends who are somewhat conscious of things and they get cancer or something else awful and die early…leaving a young family without them. Did you happen to see the almost 99 year old real estate lady on Huckabee? I was in a hotel ( where I could use the remote control) and he was interviewing her 2 weeks ago on his show. She is from Texas and I’ll bet she eats beef! I loved watching her…she was a riot. She played a ukelele ( sp?) and sang him a little song. Sharp as a tack…I need her mind skills and wonder what she eats to keep those up.

When I was a new teacher, I had a precious student named Ryan ( who is in his 30’s probably now).
His Dad was a fighter pilot: a somewhat dangerous job. He got killed when he was hit by a car riding in a bicycle marathon. The Mom was left with 2 young boys. I am certain she could NOT believe it….all the times he was deployed and she was worrying that he may not return and then most likely not worrying about this trip and he was GONE.

So I will continue to enjoy a steak as I may be hit by a car and it would be a shame if my last meal was ( or is it were) LEGUMES!

Hillary

February 5th, 2010
6:06 pm

I understand Michelle Obama and I agree wholeheartedly, I like many parents we want to believe our kids are perfect. What is wrong with that? How can any body twist around what she has said? It is CLEAR there is some evil intent here! Something smells here!

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 5th, 2010
6:12 pm

@MJG….glad it makes your day…but don’t think this means I’m not calling you out when I think you’re selling me a load of crap! ;-)

motherjanegoose

February 5th, 2010
6:33 pm

@tiger…to be sure…someone needs too!!!

DB and I agree that we share things on this blog that no one will pay any attention too….

AND THEN when those same parents are in the scenario, they may say

“What did those crazy ladies on the blog say about this….I never thought I would need to know this…”

Kind of like the things your Grandma used to say…you thought they were hopelessly old fashioned but VOILA they did have a time and place!

FCM

February 5th, 2010
7:25 pm

goawayobozo

February 5th, 2010
2:42 pm

@FCM ” Obviously you either cannot read, do not usually read what I write or you have a typo. I am a LIBERTARIAN. A very opinionated and outspoken one. Ask most anyone who contributes here. (Shaggy? Tiger? MJG? HB? Anybody willing to vouch that I am an opinionated, outspoken, libertarian and not a liberal??????)

I did not vote for the current POTUS. When he runs again I plan to help him be a one term President. NONE of his agenda comes to close to what I feel should be the direction of the country.

Of course if this is just Jane in another disguise I understand.

HB

February 5th, 2010
8:06 pm

Yup, I’ll vouch for you. FCM has said many times that she’s a libertarian and her opinions back that up.

FCM

February 5th, 2010
10:39 pm

Thank HB. I even had to go back and read what I said today. Still have no idea were goawayobozo came up with that stuff.

JATL

February 6th, 2010
12:03 am

@FCM -goawayobozo’s comments weren’t really even intelligible. I don’t think it’s Jane in disguise, but I could be mistaken. What has happened to our dear Jane? I hope she didn’t work herself into such a snit that she had a stroke or something ;-)

Brian

February 6th, 2010
1:11 pm

The first lady should follow her husbands lead and use a telepromter loaded by speechwriters.

Byron Mathison Kerr

February 6th, 2010
4:39 pm

I have faith that the First Lady knows what would or would not embarrass her children. Chubby is a mild word, in my opinion. And diet is a plan for how one eats just like budget is a plan for how one spends money. A diet and a weight-loss diet aren’t the same thing. As with so many things today, this is much ado about nothing!

Valerie

February 6th, 2010
4:41 pm

The first thing that parents should do is stop taking their children to places like Stevie B’s pizza and other poor people places like Applebee’s. Not only is the food unhealthy, I would be embarrassed to be seen there. I don’t eat stuff, why would my kid? And besides, do you enjoy diarrhea?

DavidS

February 6th, 2010
5:28 pm

Meanwhile her husband is proposing the most overbloated budget in the history of human existence. I think its time for this family to just shut up about everyone else until they get their own house in order. They have caused enough misery in this country and every country in the middle east already.

iRun

February 6th, 2010
5:29 pm

If everyone would just come run with me then no one would be fat!

C’mon! Meet me at the Carter Center tomorrow morning at 9am. We’ll go lay down 5 miles and get you set for your Super Bowl party.

GEAUX SAINTS!

iRun

February 6th, 2010
5:43 pm

OK, in all seriousness….Michelle Obama is not trying to create laws or legislation. Every First Lady has to champion a cause and bring awareness to it, but they never bring it to politics. Michelle’s is with healthy eating (the organic garden at the White House) and childhood obesity.

She’s not butting into your and your kids’ lives because she’s not some sort of enforcer. She’s just bringing awareness…stuff like breast cancer walks but here it’s organic gardens.

So, chill, it’s all good.

As for calling her kids chubby (in the past tense, at that) I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d spoken with her children ahead of time and let them know she would be talking about them. It wasn’t like these were off the cuff statement that a reporter caught as Michelle was walking to her car from Kroger, or something. They knew ahead of time what would be discussed and likely thought about it.

As for PresBO thinking there are 57 states…please…anyone with a brain or not trying to be a jackass knows he doesn’t think there are 57 states. He misspoke while fatigued on the campaign trail. Much like the way, after I ran 18 miles this morning, I went into the gas station to get a gatorade and the clerk told me it was $2.XX and I handed over $0.XX and he gave me this look….

As for Michelle having a fat bottom? Didn’t you know that fat-bottomed girls make the rockin world go round?

somewhereinga

February 6th, 2010
5:45 pm

Hey Lydiasdad. How do you tell from looking at a “Mexican” kid that he is illegal?

somewhereinga

February 6th, 2010
5:58 pm

Maybe it’s about time we start calling fat FAT. They have FAT shows on TV. Certain actresses celebrate their fatness! (as if having heart disease early is something to celebrate!)

One of the reasons I enjoy going to Sam’s club is the fact that I’m only 30 lbs overweight and I’m usually the thinnest person there! I feel downright skinny! Some of the people there are having to ride in skooters because their legs can’t hold them up any more! It’s disgusting the way some of these people look!

The worst part is when you see fat parents and their kids are fat too. It’s not some gene they are passing down to their kids. It’s their bad eating habits and NO exercise habits. AND THEY DON’T SEE THAT THERE IS A PROBLEM!

TnGelding

February 6th, 2010
6:12 pm

Yes, no and children are grown. Much ado about nothing. Anyone that watched her entire discussion would realize that. They made several lifestyle changes besides “diet.”

TnGelding

February 6th, 2010
6:15 pm

Sorry, I didn’t realize this was restricted to moms! Hang in there, ladies.

Carter is a Fool

February 6th, 2010
6:41 pm

Who gives a crap. Not me.

Tiffany

February 6th, 2010
8:26 pm

Stevi B’s and Applebees are for poor people???

tripledart

February 7th, 2010
10:56 am

From the looks of it I believe Moma Obama her self needs to be on a diet.

memyselfandI

February 7th, 2010
10:58 am

@catlady—try Maternal Gynerations Dr. Wiist!! Love Love Love everyone @ that practice; they have delivered 2 of my babies 2002 and 2005.

JoeDawg

February 7th, 2010
11:08 am

Maybe Michelle Muslim Obama should just shut her sickducker, and stop attending to other people’s business.
Maybe that Muslim SOB she’s married to should just quit now.

JoeDawg

February 7th, 2010
11:11 am

Valerie, just because you can’t afford Applebees doesn’t mean we shouldn’t partake of the joy of RIBS, you do wrap them lips around RIBS dontcha!

michelle

February 7th, 2010
11:25 am

i think she is being unfairly criticized, but that’s how it’s going to be with anything anyone in the obama family does in the next 3 years. she made it a personal issue and showed that it affects even the president’s family. and she is including her own family in her cause, which also shows that she’s walking the walk.

listen, i have a psychology degree but i don’t agree with the snippet above’s suggestions. we are so afraid of every single little thing impacting a child’s future mentality that we’re just supposed to walk on eggshells and coddle to their fragile little emotions, and i think it’s being overdone to the point of nausea. there’s nothing wrong with cold-hard truths to get your kids in line, as long as you follow it up with suggestions/remedies (action) and not just keep telling the kid they’re chubby (in my view, verbal child abuse). there’s also nothing wrong with a child’s weight as long as they eat healthy and they get exercise….let’s face it, some kids just have bad genes and can’t lose weight no matter what. but let’s remember also, parents…YOU are the provider. if your child doesn’t have bad genes and they’re overweight, restructure their diet and get them off the couch. “diet” doesn’t mean weightloss. “diet” is what you eat day in and day out.

D

February 7th, 2010
11:36 am

No she was not out of line. She only spoke the truth. It’s amazing to me how the world seem to have the First Family – The Obama’s under a microscope!

Kim

February 7th, 2010
11:44 am

Get a grip people. We have more important issues to deal with (healthcare, war, economic crisis, education, etc).